A new study looking at creatures such as tortoises and turtles has found that they have biological mechanisms that slow down or even completely switch off ageing, which may indicate a way to extend human longevity.

As reported by The Independent, the research, published in the journal Science on Thursday, looked at signs of senescence – the gradual process of deterioration of physical and functional characteristics – among tortoises and turtles living in zoos and aquariums.

The international team of scientists found that the pattern of ageing in these cold-blooded creatures does not resemble that seen in humans or other animals.

Most of the studied creatures aged slower, and in some cases, their senescence is negligible, scientists said.

Creatures that were studied included 77 cold-blooded species from 107 wild populations, including turtles, amphibians, snakes, crocodilians and tortoises.

News and Star: Species of tortoise were found to have less senescence (Canva)Species of tortoise were found to have less senescence (Canva)


Of the 52 species analysed in the study, scientists said three-fourths of them showed extremely slow senescence, while 80% appeared to have slower ageing than modern humans.

Some of the species have the ability to reduce their rate of ageing in response to the improved living conditions in zoos and aquariums, compared to the wild, scientists say.

How does senescence impact ageing?

Theories around senescence suggest that it begins after sexual maturity, where it invests more energy in reproduction than in repairing cells and tissue.

Due to this tradeoff, researchers have held that after reaching sexual maturity, individuals inevitably stop growing and start experiencing senescence – a prediction that has been confirmed for several species, particularly mammals and birds.

Turtles and tortoises, and other organisms that keep growing after sexual maturity, could have the ability to keep investing in repairing cellular damages - which then avoid the effects of senescence.

Although humans have witnessed unprecedented increases in longevity in the last century, scientists say improved living conditions does not modify the rate of ageing in humans and other primates.